Football: Conference warning to League

Stevenage Borough 2 Kidderminster Harriers 2

While Woking and Hednesford were doing the Vauxhall Conference proud at Premiership stadiums on Saturday, the league's top two teams at the start of the day laid on a thoroughly entertaining 90 minutes at Broadhall Way for the biggest Conference crowd of the season.

Although the majority of the 6,489 will have gone home unhappy that the champions Stevenage, who were in second place with five games in hand, were unable to make any impression on Kidderminster's 15-point lead, the match was a credit to two ambitious clubs.

Stevenage, as champions last season, and Kidderminster, two seasons before, were denied promotion from the Conference because their grounds failed to meet Football League requirements. Now they are both up to scratch and the Third Division's bottom club this time are unlikely to be reprieved in the way Torquay were last season.

Having suffered these identical disappointments, there is great mutual respect between the sides. It was evident in a game that, despite its significance and despite five bookings, never came near to being a scrap; and it was evident in Stevenage's smart new press box where their manager, Paul Fairclough, and his Kidderminster counterpart, Graham Allner, were happy to perform an impromptu double act for their inquisitors after the game.

Though he was restored to full fitness after a hamstring injury, Stevenage decided not to start with their Nigerian central defender Efetobor Sodje, whose defensive athleticism and distinctive bandana have caught the eye of Wimbledon among others. The decision seemed to have backfired after 13 minutes, when the former Aston Villa and England Under-21 striker Ian Olney put the finishing touch to Chris Brindley's prodigious leap from Neil Doherty's corner to give Kidderminster the lead.

Stevenage equalised 10 minutes later, Neil Catlin's free-kick curling straight in after evading everybody, including a rogue Stevenage hand, but within a minute the Doherty-Brindley- Olney combination had restored the visitors' lead.

The arrival of Sodje, to huge cheers, five minutes into the second half lifted Stevenage morale perceptibly. Darren Steadman produced a string of fine saves for Kidderminster but, with just 13 minutes left, a horrible mix-up between Brindley and Steadman gave Corey Browne the simplest of tasks to complete the scoring.

All of which left Allner, despite being pegged back twice, marginally the happier manager and fancying Kidderminster's chances of survival in a higher league. "A lot of those clubs are taking the Football Trust money and improving their facilities," he said, "but it's the organisation and strength overall where the Conference clubs are improving which means, when they do go up, they'll have a better chance of competing with Football League clubs."

Fairclough, meanwhile, was quick to appreciate the crowd's contribution: "The potential of the club is amazing," he said. "At one stage when the chant was ringing round the stadium, it was incredible. I've never heard it before and it was wonderful, absolutely wonderful."

Goals: Olney (13) 0-1; Catlin (23) 1-1; Olney (24) 1-2; Browne (77) 2-2.

Stevenage Borough (4-4-2): Gallagher; Hooper, Kirby, Smith, Mutchell; Trebble (Sodje, 51), Beevor, Barrowcliff, Hayles; Catlin, Browne (Crawshaw, 89). Substitute not used: Adams.

Kidderminster Harriers (4-3-3): Steadman; Bignot, Brindley, Weir, Prindiville; Willetts, Webb, Deakin (Cartwright, 86); Doherty (McCue, 69), Olney, Hughes (Casey, 69).

Referee: T Howes (Norwich). Bookings: Stevenage: Smith, Trebble, Kirby. Kidderminster: Weir, Prindiville.

Man of the match: Catlin. Attendance: 6,489.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'